Shop now Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Paperwhite Shop now Shop Now Shop now

Customer Reviews

13
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
8
4 star
3
3 star
0
2 star
2
1 star
0
The Illumination of Merton Browne
Format: Kindle EditionChange
Price:£5.49
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2007
An excellent book about a boy (Merton Browne) from a tough and deprived estate, who enters his secondary comp subconsciously hoping that education might lead him away from his disfunctional family and sink estate. Merton is a very clever boy whose energies are syphoned off into both learning on his own in a secret place under the school and being the brains behind the local gang on the estate....

There are moments in the book of huge suspense and drama. There are wonderful cameos of his headteacher, his friend's evangelical Caribbean mum, Merton's tutor and his mother.

I could not put it down; Merton as a character is superb and you immediately ( and I obsessively) get drawn into his world from the start.

As well as being a great story it has strong social message: ranging from the importance of thorough education, of well disciplined schools, of the need for fathers in the lives of their children etc...

I urge you to buy it ..you will not be disappointed.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2007
I read this book almost in a single sitting. It is completely gripping. It is a coming-of-age story of a young boy who grows up surrounded by violence and ignorance, both at home and at school.

On the face of it, Merton doesn't have much hope, but he's got a strong desire to discover the truth and he manages to find an escape in the world of books - poetry, history and literature - which give him a different perspective on the world around him.

You follow him through his big dilemma of whether to go for the dubious glamour of life in a gang or whether to take a different path, one that forces him to push himself to the limits. You are with him all the way.

Merton's character is likeable and engaging, and the writing and observations are sharp and often witty. Highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2007
This is simultaneously an exciting, very well-made tale and a splendid novel of ideas. You cheer for, and fear for, its teenaged protagonist, whose story is riveting, and in a more leisurely way you will mull over the intricacies and ironies of Shaw's vision of modern state-sector education. There are some marvelous tricks here--Merton makes brilliant and terrible mistakes about the world, as do a number of the people he encounters, and Shaw's political sympathies are never simple-minded. The book is at times brutal, always very clever, and passionate about something very much worth caring about: the perversities of some dominant educational ideals and practices, and the fate of people caught in it. Very few novels of ideas are this well crafted as pure stories, and almost no stories as gripping as this one have such a freight of serious ideas. I loved this.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2007
This is a terrific story, speedily told, which takes you into a murky world from a lateral point of view. It is a revelation, turning assumptions on their head and leading to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. If only all essential messages of truth for our society could be told so entertainingly. Read and enjoy! I am already looking forward to his next book.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Like the other reviewers and also people to whom I have lent this book, I could not put it down. Started 10 pm finished 6 am. This book also has in my own and others opinion the strongest first seven lines in contemporary English.

The story is a highly original venture in social realism, with some elements of Martin Amis but in fundamental difference from most of this literature, it has the feature that as you read along you don't know whether it is going to have a happy ending, although you see that it may.

The story is accurately described by both the preceding reviewers. It is the story of a boy from a typically deprived and messed up home going through the state secondary education system in a manner that has two key features. First the description of rough life and terrible language is deeply authentic (how do I know? - because I do) Along the line he gets involved with gangs, guns and the courts, yet he ends up as a student at Cambridge.
Second the way the hero gets out of his basic situation is original and exciting. By accident he finds a hidden basement containing a complete old-fashioned school library, which has been put aside in favour of a new library. "Our library in the main block was full of CD Roms and videos. The real library - the old one, all the stuff nobody read any more- had been dumped down here." He finds ways to spend hours in the place, both for study and protection. On this find, in various ways, he builds his future.
Finally, this book is a sure success because both dialogue and soliloqy text are outstanding. A natural born writer.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2007
This book really surprised me. It's a coming of age story about a boy from desperate familial and socioeconomic circumstances, and a bit reminiscent of tales told by authors from C. Dickens to S. E. Hinton--but the author's understanding of Merton's situation avoids both sentimentality and knee-jerk sociology. It's a page-turner full of memorable action scenes, but it makes you rethink some of the ideological "givens" of our time about the importance of family (not very great, perhaps, if your family is hurting you) and education (kind of totalitarian, actually, if your school won't let you choose your own books and ask critical questions). Merton is pretty much an autodidact, but all of his reading doesn't prevent him from making the mistakes that tragically bedevil so many kids in his circumstances, so he's never too good or bad, and he knows you need to find good teachers. But he's not that ordinary, either. He's a new kind of juvenile hero, neither Oliver Twist nor Holden Caulfield. Grittier and more truthful than Harry Potter, and Merton's wizardry is available to humans--adolescents and grown-ups--willing to read and think.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 15 August 2007
Wow! This is an awesome page-turner, impossible to stop reading! On the one hand it's a thrilling story of school boys who graduate from bullies to gangsters on the bullet-ridden streets of a London estate. On the other hand, behind all of this, Shaw addresses a number of problems which so many people shy away from: the breakdown of the family, the importance of the father-figure, London teenagers with automatic weapons, the garbage forced on children in schools etc. Have a read, it's a gripping EYE-OPENER.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 29 June 2012
A truly inspiring story for all underprivileged children out there. Exploring gangs, drugs and violence, Shaw gives a brilliant but striking insight on the estates of London and manages to create a struggling but heroic character, who I found fascinating and addictive to read about.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
From the opening sentence this book is a compulsive and deliberately shocking read. It tells the story of one kid from an inner-city nightmare home who escapes his no-hoper destiny and his violent home life through books. Not the books his teachers tell him to read, but the books he discovers in a lock-up at his school - old books, Latin primers, Greek mythology, history and philosophy books that were discarded when the school changed from a Grammar to a Comprehensive. This novel is absolutely scathing when it comes to the comprehensive system of education and provides food for thought as well as maligning a lot of teachers who are trying their best to get kids through school with a modicum of knowledge to their benefit.

Sadly, however, there is a lot to dislike about this book too. It pulls its punches when it comes to the miracle of a Community Service Order that finds Merton a classical scholar willing to put his prejudices aside and teach Merton for free. From painting over grafitti, Merton uneasily straddles the gap between his unofficial job as consigliere for a violently feral gang and the promising student with aspirations to go to Cambridge. It couldn't happen, yet it does. When it gets filmed there is a nice part for Michael Caine as the old soldier whose ancient service revolver provides Merton with a way out of a nasty corner - but that's already been done in the film Harry Brown.

Impossible not to get caught up in, realistic in terms of its setting, though not in the unbelievably hopeful ending, this is an enjoyable piece of make-believe.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2008
A gripping and easy read, but with a shallow and highly predictable ending. It starts off well but dissolves into ridiculous fantasy with a highly unconvincing, happy-ending. Almost all the females in the book are used as token sex symbols for the juvenile male hero to test his masculine pulling power. (with the sole exception of his downtrodden mother.) The non-white characters are portrayed as 'dim but nice' - and are there only to be violently killed off in a ridiclous mob-riot climax. Nevertheless despite its overt hetrosexism and racism, an astonishingly accurate portrayal is made of the failings within the contemporary education system. The plot follows the typical Hollywood-movie-formula (possibly the writer intended it to be a movie-script?), but there are some gritty and even thought-provoking parts interspersed throughout. Worth reading and entertaining, but highly escapist and unconvincing.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.